Boise to Stanley, Day Four

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June 20, 2005

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Our feet had been tenderized yesterday, and we expected today to be extra hard, not to mention hot, so we got an early start. After a brief flat section on a jeep road to warm up, the trail turned to singletrack and started a long, fairly steep climb. By 8:30, we had already climbed over 1000' but were still in the cool shade. This area seemed to be in great condition, with loads of wildflowers. The trail is steep, but at a steady grade with switchbacks like the one Carol is walking near the bottom of the picture.

Start of the Grand Mountain trail

The views of the North Fork canyon are outstanding, and give you an eagle-eye view of the Boise National Forest logging practices.

Boise mountains

By 8:45 we had gained the top of the ridge, with views to the south of Steel Mountain. The weather could not have been better: sunny and cool, with a slight breeze.

Art with Steel Mountain in background

As you continue to climb the ridge, the views get ever more expansive. Soon you can see the canyon of the North Fork, the part where the trail is of dubious quality... that diverted us up this way in the first place. You can also see the Trapper Creek road, a mountain bike ride listed in Steve Steubner's book. Natalie and I rode that ride several years ago, so again the hike was about to take me to known terrain.

This shot was taken during a snack break on the trail, where we got an unexpected visitor. We were sitting quietly in the manzanita, when a doe walking up the same trail came within about 30 feet of us before realizing we were there. Carol, facing that direction, said suddenly, "Look!" Art and I both jumped, spooking the deer. We turned to see it running down the hillside, so no picture.

Shepard Peak in the distance

The trail does not go to the summit of Grand Mountain, but instead traverses about 200 feet below. With sore feet and miles to go, we opted not to do the extra work. Instead, we argued about which way to go.

In the background, we got our first glimpse of the day's destination, Horse Heaven trailhead. We could also see Swanholm Peak and West Warrior Mountain, the object of a reconnaissance ski trip I did last January.

The high point for tomorrow is visible just above Art's outstretched right hand.

Art and Carol navigating

The trail goes right over the top of Granite Mountain, which we "summitted" at 1:10. Then it rolls through some gorgeous old-growth forest complete with meadows of flowers.

We had had several discussions about the timing of the trip. We originally selected the dates late in the winter when it looked like it was going to be a really low snow year. Afterwards, dates, locked, it started to snow. Then we had a very mild May. We were concerned about the amount of snow still in the high country. But one thing is for sure- we got a great display of flowers everywhere we went. We also got an equally great growth of understory brush, which at times made finding the trial a bit, well, interesting.

Carol on Grand Mountain

Towards the end of the day, our direction did not follow the end of the Grand Mountain trail, which turns into a road and traverses to Swanholm Saddle. Instead, we bushwhacked down the ridge to reach Horse Heaven at 3:45, where our cache awaited us. Note the plastic bucket, which had been hung in a tree, and the wine, which was perfectly chilled in the creek (for you purist wine snobs, we let the red warm slightly as we first drank the white).

Art and Carol with wine bottles

After drinking the wine, we enjoyed the afternoon with baths, clothes washing, and stories of our distant youths.

The rest did us good, and as it turns out, we would need it for Day 5.

Mr. Natural Home | 2005 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski